Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I recently had the opportunity to speak to two different groups about setting healthy boundaries.  The first group was the Pinelake Resevior Campus MOMs group and the second was Mississippi Hands and Voices, an organization for parents of children with hearing loss and and those who work with children with hearing loss.  I really enjoyed both of these experiences, and in preparing I spent quite a bit of time learning and thinking about healthy boundaries. 

So what are boundaries? There are a multitude of complex definitions out there, but to me setting healthy boundaries is just this-setting some limits in your life in order to take care of yourself and protect the things that matter most to you.  There are tons of areas where one will benefit from setting up some boundaries-boundaries with yourself, boundaries with your relationships, boundaries with your finances, and many more.  Today I'm mainly writing about an area that is relevant to many people, boundaries with your time. 

We live in a world that is busy, busy, busy.  No matter your stage of life, there is probably a good chance that you have a lot going on.  Whether you are a student, working, a parent, or a combination of one or more of these things, most people have to work hard to balance it all.  And many of us spend a good bit of time giving to others in some way-volunteering, helping out at your kid’s school or with your kid’s activities, serving at church, helping others with their problems, taking care of your family- the list of ways we can give of ourselves is endless.  Giving of yourself and your time is a great thing! God calls us to be giving in so many ways.  However, the problems start coming when we give away so much of our time than we have none left to take care of ourselves.  The combination of all of these things can lead to a person feeling overwhelmed, in a constant rush, and like there isn’t enough time in the day.  It’s not bad to be busy; in many ways busyness to a healthy extent is good for you.  But if some of these things are happening, you might be overdoing it:

·         You start to dread, or even feel bitter, about your responsibilities or meetings.

·         You are overwhelmed and exhausted all the time.  Tasks that seem normal cause you to feel like you might fall apart.

·         Your relationships seem out of control.  You know some things need to change, but you aren’t sure what.

·         Nothing feels fun, everything just feels like another thing to check off your list. 

The topic of boundaries comes up A LOT in counseling.  For a lot of different reasons, many of us just have trouble saying “I can’t do that this time," “I’m not going to be able to make it," “I won’t be able to help with that," or the really difficult one “NO." I have trouble with it myself.  Sometimes I just have a hard time telling people no if they need my help.  Even if I know I don’t have time, even if the request is a little ridiculous, I just have a hard time saying no if someone needs me.  Sometimes I end up making my life difficult because I say yes to too many good things.  Because too many good things is still too many things!

What I’ve come to learn from counseling and from my own life is this: We are in no way made to do it all.  If we don’t have any boundaries in our lives, we eventually become overwhelmed, exhausted, and probably grouchy.  A lack of healthy boundaries can make life seem out of control and can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, relationship problems, and can ultimately steal joy from you and keep you from being the person you’re trying so hard to be. 

So how do you begin to set some boundaries? Here are some basic ideas that can be good starting points:

·         Set aside some specific time each day to spend relaxing the way you relax best.  Maybe this time can be right after work, maybe it’s while your kids are napping, or maybe you’ll have to get up a little earlier or stay up a little later to do it.  Figure out what works for you and be protective of that time. 

·         Consider your priorities and the way that you spend your time.  Does the way you spend your time really represent what is most important to you? Are you doing some things out of a sense of obligation that you don’t feel particularly called to or enjoy? Make a list of your activities and responsibilities.   Some things you probably have to do, but does anything need to go?

·         DO NOT compare your busyness to other peoples! Comparison is a game that you will always lose.  Besides, you can’t ever know what is really going on in another person’s heart or home. 

·         If you do decide you need to set some limits in certain areas or with certain people, share your thoughts with a trusted friend who will help hold you accountable to your decision.

·         Remember, setting boundaries is not bad or mean!  It’s something that you have to do in order to keep yourself spiritually, mentally, and physically healthy. 

These are just a few of my thoughts on boundaries, but there is so much information available on this topic! Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can point you to any resources.


Thanks for Listening,












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